There are so many factors that go into keeping a small business afloat right now. All of you entered into this pandemic at different stages of company growth and with a unique set of challenges.
But even if your physical store has closed due to this crisis, there are things you can be doing right now to stay open.
First, I want to say that this isn’t about perfection, it’s about progress. Waiting until you can get things perfect is not the name of the game. Experimentation is.
And it’s not about taking giant leaps, it’s about the small steps you take everyday.
Be gentle with yourself and embrace that fearless spirit that brought you to running your own business in the first place.
If you don't have an online shop up and running, here's ways to keep your store open:
1. Use your social channels and customer emails to connect with your local community.
Imagine if this crisis happened pre internet and social media. 😱
Focus your efforts on reaching out and staying in touch with the customers and followers you already have. Focus on continuing to nurture their affinity for you and your store.
Show up for them even if they can't visit your store. You can do that even if you don't have an online store.
2. Set up a ‘virtual shop’.
It's never been easier to sell what's in your store outside of your physical store. Share your wares even if people can't be there physically by taking them through your store and products virtually.
Curate a few of your favourite items (or customer favourites) and showcase them virtually.
You can do this using Zoom, Instagram Live or Facebook Live.
Turn on your phone and tell your audience what makes your curated items so great. And have some fun! This doesn't have to be polished. It can 100% be real, fumbles and all.
Direct your customers to place orders via email. If you take orders through DMs, make sure you're capturing emails too! This way you can start building your customer database.
Let them know this is how to place orders in your live video and in your social media bio so people know how to shop from you.
If you can make this a regular shopping event, even better!
Pro tip: Record your session and post the video for customers who missed it live. Or use short snippets to promote the next one!
3. Set specific pick up or delivery windows
Set specific pick up or delivery windows during the week. Make sure to communicate them to customers.
Batch deliver purchased items within your local community and remind customers you’ll be taking social distancing protocols and to inform you where they’d like their delivery left.
And put order minimums in place to ensure delivery will be worth your time & effort. A great way to do this is by creating product bundles and selling the curated items in a kit.
Of course, this can't ever replace the experience of being in your store or of connecting with you in person. But just remember, your customers are stuck at home and yearn for things to return to normal. They miss you just as much as you miss them!
So find ways to bring your store to them and stay connected until you can reunite IRL again.